Waterloo billboard 'harmful to public safety'

An illuminated digital advertising billboard next to Waterloo Station is "substantially harmful to public safety," a planning inspector has ruled.

Waterloo billboard 'harmful to public safety'

Lambeth Council granted a five-year permission for the digital billboard on the west side of the former Waterloo International Terminal which was installed in 2018. The giant screen faces the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel and the busy junction on the South Bank side of Westminster Bridge.

The freeholder of the billboard site is London & Continental Railways which is owned by the Government.

Ad firm Global applied last year to renew the advertisement consent for a further five years, but this time Lambeth Council said no, claiming the billboard would represent "unacceptable visual clutter resulting in harm to the approach to the Westminster World Heritage Site and the setting of the ... General Lying-In Hospital" as well as warning it "has the potential to create a significant distraction to drivers".

Global lodged an appeal against Lambeth's decision and the case was considered by Government-appointed planning inspector Victor Callister whose decision - dismissing the appeal and upholding Lambeth's rejection of the billboard - has now been published.

Mr Callister concluded that "the advertisement screen results presents an unduly prominent and incongruous element within the streetscape of the local area and the approach to the Westminster World Heritage Site, detracting from its visual amenity and not taking into account the setting of the Grade II listed General Lying-In Hospital".

The inspector also found that the billboard is "substantially harmful to public safety".

He wrote: "From the material before me, it is evident that the local area has had a substantial number of collisions involving road users, including the more vulnerable modes, this includes the immediate vicinity of the advertising screen.

"Whilst the evidence provided does not indicate that the advertisement screen has been directly responsible for any of these collisions, the volume of all transport modes, including pedestrians and the complexity of vehicle movements is taking place in an environment, where looking and visibility are a critical part of the safety of road users of all types.

"When combined with internal illumination, the intermittent changing of the advertisement display, albeit with an almost instant transition, has the potential at this busy city gyratory location to distract motorists and create visual confusion for road users as they approach and use the gyratory and respond appropriately to traffic control signals and signage, thereby posing a risk to pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users."

In its evidence Global argued that the site has been used for advertising since 1999, and pointed out that Global's contract with LCR includes "advertisement slots that promote local businesses and charities, supporting local regeneration initiatives".

Tags: Waterloo, South Bank, Planning & Development, Lambeth, Transport

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